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Kunde adds SI appearance to long list of accomplishments

Not just another face in crowd

Published: Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 12:15 p.m. CDT
Submiited photo Bruce Kunde, 76 of Sterling, gained the attention of Sports Illustrated back in August for he feats on waterskis.

He's still at it. He is Sterling's Bruce Kunde, and it is waterskiing at an elite level.

Kunde, now 76, won state, regional at national championships in ski jumping over the summer, setting records every step of the way. His accomplishments earned him recognition in Sports Illustrated magazine and a phone interview on the Dwyer and Michaels radio show on 97X.

Kunde was featured in Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd in the Aug. 27 issue.

"Some gal from their home office in New York called me," Kunde said. "She interviewed me for about 20 minutes. They could only use about three lines."

As for his radio venture, Kunde said, "I was on for about 15-20 minutes. It was fun."

Kunde has competed at a high level since his first effort 30 years ago.

This year's success was in jeopardy.

"Unfortunately, I had a kidney stone about a week and a half before the state tournament," Kunde said. "I had to stop practicing just to be able to get out of bed in the morning."

Kunde was not 100 percent, but was good enough to jump 90 feet at state, 85 feet at regionals in Minnesota, and 88 feet at nationals in Florida.

Kunde now owns national records in the 65-69, 70-74, and 75-79 age groups.

He shattered the previous 75-79 age group regional record of 36 feet and also easily surpassed the previous national best of 76 feet.

Also at nationals, he placed second in the slalom and trick competitions.

Kunde has a bit of daredevil in him.

"It's sort of like Evel Knievel," he said. "You go for it all and hope you make it."

He's had his share of injuries over the years.

"I've been hurt for 5 years because I jumped off a picnic table and hyperextended my leg," Kunde said. "I've had cracked ribs, a torn rotator cuff, and I popped my Achilles tendon.

"And last year I took a real bad slalom fall. I thought a stick was in my way and tried to push it away, and here it was my arm. It went dead on me. I thought, 'Here comes the wheelchair.' "

Yet, he doesn't plan on giving up waterskiing anytime soon.

"My goal is to keep going until some health problem makes me quit," Kunde said. "I'd rather burn out than rust out."

Kunde file

Resides: Sterling

Age: 76

2012 season highlights: Won state, regional, and national ski jumping championships, setting records every step of the way.

Top accomplishments: Has been a national force in amateur waterskiing for 30 years, setting national records in three age divisions.

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